Literary Papyri

17 [2 b.c.]ΤΗΛΕΦΟΣ

Ed. pr. *Calderini, Aegyptus, xv. 1935, p. 239. See Goossens, Chronigues d’Egypte, 11, 1936, 508 (and 139); Körte, Archiv, xiii. 1938, 98; Buchwald, Stud. zur Chronol. d. Att. Trag., diss. Königsb. 1939,26.

For the plot of this famous play, see J. Schmidt in Roscher’s Lexicon, v. col. 274; Schwenn in P.-W.-K. ix. col. 362; and esp. Wilamowitz, Berliner Klassikertexte, v. 2. 69. For the legend see our preface to Sophocles’ Ἀχαιῶν Σύλλογος: from which it will be evident that Sophocles’ treatment of the theme gave little scope for tense or profound drama. But the Telephus of Euripides was a most original and interesting character. The action of the play was partly concerned with a dissension in the Greek army; Agamemnon being eager, and Menelaus reluctant, to abandon the expedition against Troy. And Telephus himself took for his model the crafty Athenian politician, a cunning fellow thriving on stratagem and deception. First, he disguised himself as a beggar in rags; then he sought to win Agamemnon over with sly argu-

(From the Prologue)

ὦ γα[ῖα πατρίς], ἣν Πέλοψ ὁρίζεται, χαῖρ᾿, ὅς τε πέτραν Ἀρκάδων δυσχείμερον Πὰν ἐμβατεύεις, ἔνθεν εὔχομαι γένος· Αὐγὴ γὰρ Ἀλέου παῖς με τῶι Τιρυνθίωι 5τίκτει λαθραίως Ἡρακλεῖ· σύνοιδ᾿ ὄρος Παρθένιον, ἔνθα μητέρ᾿ ὠδίνων ἐμὴν ἔλυσεν Εἰλείθυια, γίγνομαι δ᾿ ἐγώ. καὶ πόλλ᾿ (ἐ)μόχθησ᾿· ἀλλὰ συντεμῶ λόγον· ἦλθον δὲ Μυσῶν πεδίον, ἔνθ᾿ ε(ὑ)ρὼν ἐμὴν 10μητέρα κατοικῶ, καὶ δίδωσί μοι κράτη Τεύθρας ὁ Μυσός, Τήλεφον δ᾿ ἐπώνυμον καλοῦσί μ᾿ ἀστοὶ Μυσίαν κατὰ χθόνα·

  • 1-7(Εἰλείθυια) Nauck, fr. 696.
  • 9ερων Π: corr.Goossens.


Telephus [2 b.c.]

ments; being unsuccessful, he boldly seized the infant Orestes and held him as hostage until Agamemnon yielded. [This feature was not invented by Euripides: vases prove it to be earlier, and tradition assigned it to Aeschylus, see Wilamowitz, loc. cit. pp. 69–70.] Finally he prevailed upon Achilles with another display of specious and sophistical argument. The fragments do not allow us to follow Telephus pleading his own cause as if he were another person, and later betraying his own identity; but there was evident occasion for surprise and subtlety. We see clearly how Euripides could transform a slow and stately legend into a breathless drama of intrigue and suspense; and how obviously he merited the accusation that he was abasing the dignity of his profession. But the Athenians never forgot the rags and tatters of his Telephus.

The play was produced in 438 b.c. together with Alcmeon through Psophis, Cretan Women, and Alcestis. Vv. 1–7 (to Εἰλείθυια) = fr. 696 N.: v. 13 = fab. incert fr. 884 N.

(From the Prologue)

Telephus. I greet my fatherland, where Pelops set his boundaries; and Pan, who haunts the stormy Arcadian crags, whence I avow my birth. Auge, the daughter of Aleus, bore me in secret to Heracles of Tiryns. Witness Parthenion, the mountain where Ilithyia released my mother from her pangs, and I was born. And long I laboured—but I will make my story brief; I came to the plain of Mysia, where I found my mother and made a home. Teuthras, the Mysian, granted me his empire. Men call me Telephus in the towns of Mysia, since far from

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.select_papyri_poetry_tragedy_5th_4th_centuries_bc.1941